How To Lower Your Calories Without Starving

aka Working Out. Plain and simple there is no other way. Your body needs x amount of calories to maintain itself. These can be figured out from the link in the other day’s post. If you eat consume more calories than this maintenance level you will gain weight. If you consume fewer calories than this maintenance level you will lose weight. The approximate number of calories in a pound is 3500 calories. So if you can manage to consume 3500 fewer calories in a week than your body needs, you will in theory lose one pound. If you can manage to consumer 7000 fewer calories in a week than your maintenance levels you will lose two pounds, etc.

Now let’s say your caloric maintenance level is 1600 calories. To lose one pound in a week you would have to lose 500 calories per day. That means just through dieting you would have to eat 1/3 of what your body needs in a week just to lose one single pound. Now to me, there is not finishing everything on your plate, and then there is stopping eating before you are satiated. If I feel hungry I get anxious, grumpy and obnoxious, so cutting out one third of my food to the point of losing a single pound is ridiculous. But let’s take this further. To lose two pounds in a week, you would need to cut out 1000 calories from your diet. Again assuming you are at 1600 calories, this means cutting out two thirds of the food you need for your body to maintain itself. To take this one final step further, let’s then assume that you are needing to lose weight in the first place because you are eating MORE than your caloric maintenance needs. So if you are already at 2000 calories a day and now needing to cut back to 600 calories a day, this is downright starvation and any basic dietitian will tell you that your body does not like to starve. You can only starve it for so long before it starts fighting back through drastically lowered energy, replenishing required fat and carbs, muscle atrophy, etc. But beyond that, your hunger will never feel satiated meaning you will feel hungry all of the time!!

And thus we arrive at exercise. I run at 6.3mph for 40 minutes with a 5 minute cooldown at 4mph. This results in a net expense of 535 calories according to the treadmill. Doing this five times a week nets me a total caloric burn on the treadmill of 2675 calories. If I simply eat my maintenance level of calories in a given week, I will lose 3/4 of a pound every week just running. This means you are feeling satiated, your body and metabolism are getting the amount of calories you need to operate, and your body will burn the fat when going into a metabolic state to make up for the rest. I also add in 4 days of weight lifting for anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours depending on the day. Figuring out those calories over the course of a week weight lifting contributes an additional 2100 calories burned over the week. So now between weight lifting and running I am burning 4775 calories a week which at maintenance caloric levels translates into 1 1/3 pound lost every week.

Now we can start looking at dieting!! We need an additional 2225 calories shaved off our diet every week to hit a 7000 calorie deficit. Divide that up by 7 days and we are looking at around 315 calories per day that needs to be cut. At 1600 calories per day of maintenance, you are now needing to reduce your diet by a mere 1/5th of it’s calories. This is generally not even enough to leave you feeling hungry and is still more than enough to provide both the energy and protein needed to build muscle and keep going throughout the day.

So you can see where we go from practically starving ourselves to lose a pound of fat a week to cutting back just a little food and losing two pounds a week. You can technically extrapolate this out as far as you’d care to go: run for workout for 7000 calories a week and cut back on 2500 calories for a heavier individual and you could be close to 3 pounds a week. Sure this doesn’t sound as impressive as shows like The Biggest Loser where they lose 10-15 pounds in a week, but doing 2-2.5 pounds every week for just two months amounts to 16-20 pounds. Even at obese levels 16-20 pounds is going to make a night and day difference to how you feel and look.

Most of my information has come from the National Institutes of Health. My actual caloric needs and burns are figured out based on my activities and running.

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